The Q&A Archives: Help! Rookie in fear of causing death to beautiful dahlias!

Question: On April 30 I planted forget me nots, petunias, and dahlias around a young maple. All seem to be doing well so far except the dahlias. Their beautiful orange blooms are starting to shrivel and petals fall off... I have them in a sunny spot and have been good about watering.
Did i plant too early? (I live in Northern, NJ -Essex County) On the nights of potential frost, I covered flowers with an old sheet and some newspapers.

Maybe I didn't give them enough room? (I bunched 3 plants to rather close together).

Answer: Although it may be a little early to plant petunias and dahlias in your region, I think you did your best to protect them from cold weather. It's normal for dahlia flowers to shrivel up after a few weeks of glorious display. Cut off the spent flowers, along with the stem they're attached to. New flowers will form in a few weeks. If you keep pruning off the spent flowers your dahlias will continue to produce brand new flowers. Same with your petunias. Pinch off the spent flowers along with some of the stem and they will branch out and produce lots of new flowers. You may have planted your dahlias too close together, but I think they'll be able to fight it out. They're such hardy plants that companionship shouldn't hurt them. Watch to see how they grow and next time you plant dahlias you'll be able to judge just how far apart to plant them. Enjoy your garden!

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